Premier Doug Ford is talking tough these days about social distancing, but is his bluster all bark and no bite?
Indeed, last week, the Ford government introduced new social distancing regulations to combat the much-feared second wave of the Wuhan virus. Initially limited to just Toronto, Peel and Ottawa, indoor gatherings are now limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings are restricted to 25 across the province.
Should someone violate those regulations, the organizer faces a minimum $10,000 fine while attendees would be subject to $880 fines.
On Saturday, the day after the new rules kicked in, a few hundred members of #YahooNation converged upon the lawns of the Ontario legislature at Queen’s Park (as they’ve been doing since April). As the hours wore on, a weird kind of anticipation filled the air: when oh when was law enforcement going to show up, Melbourne, Australia-style, and start handing out fines and maybe even making arrests?
After all, the protest definitely exceeded 25 persons, and there are no exemptions for protests in the new regulations. Can’t wait to see how that will go down next time a Black Lives Matter protest kicks in.
The #YahooNation protest was literally in the Premier’s backyard, and we know Premier Ford does not like these people. He’s the one who called them a “bunch of yahoos” way back in April, after all.
So it was somewhat of a surprise that all forms of law enforcement were AWOL that day. Indeed, after almost three hours on the lawns of Queen’s Park, the protesters marched through downtown Toronto to Yonge-Dundas Square and then back to Queen’s Park. Yet not a single person was fined or even warned.
So are these hollow threats being uttered by Ontario’s premier? Or was this a one-off exemption that happened last Saturday?
Perhaps we shall have greater clarity this upcoming Saturday as members of #YahooNation shall once again converge at Yonge-Dundas Square and Queen’s Park.
The question is: will law enforcement also be there to uphold the new regulations?